May 20, 2015

Little Devil, Big Scares: a review of Jonathan Janz's "Exorcist Road"

Exorcist Road
by Jonathan Janz
Samhain Publishing (2014)
132 pages

Available on or direct from Samhain.

Brian Keene recently described Jonathan Janz as "one of the best writers of modern horror to come along in the last decade."

He's not wrong, either.

It's a dark and stormy night, and there's a serial killer on the loose. Sound a bit familiar? Well, I haven't gotten to the part about the exorcism. Oh, now I have your attention.

Jason Crowder relates the story of a horrific night when he's summoned by two detectives in the middle of the night to look in on a troubled young boy. One detective, the boy's uncle fears the kid is possessed by a demon, which sounds pretty crazy, but with the other detective convinced the boy is the feared serial killer who has terrorized the city and murdered a number of young girls, it all sounds even crazier.

It's ceaseless tension throughout, as just about every character in the story has some cloud of suspicion hanging over their heads. The boy, his parents, the two detectives, even the two priests. And when you're not trying to piece the clues together as to what's really going on, the horrific escalation in violence inside the house will have you turning pages either out of exhilaration or revulsion.

Exorcist Road taps into the same vein of visceral roller coaster style horror that Janz's serial novel, Savage Species, did last year. But I think this book is a more finely tuned effort with a smaller cast and a better focus on characters to go hand-in-hand with the horror. If you're squeamish, steer clear. But if you're a horror hound, definitely pick it up.

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